HEBRON ESTATES - After celebrating Senior Night before the game, the North Bullitt Lady Eagles rolled to a 6-0 victory on Saturday over arch-rival Bullitt Central.
This was the first and only meeting of the season between the two teams. The squads were supposed to play a month earlier in Shepherdsville, but a lack of officials sent the teams home that day. A rescheduled date a few weeks later was put off because of wet conditions. That left Saturday’s game as the only meeting between the teams.
This one belonged to North Bullitt from the start. Coach Ryan Bringhurst’s team got an early break when Bullitt Central was called for a push in the box. That gave North Bullitt a penalty kick. That gave senior Kristin Mulliniks a one-on-one opportunity and her shot was deflected by the Bullitt Central goalie and off the right post where the Lady Cougars kicked it out. Play was then stopped and the officials met, finally agreeing that the ball had crossed the goal line before being cleared.
That opened the flood gates for the green and gold. Senior Halee Heltsley, one of the top scorers in the state this season, blasted a 20-yard shot into the back of the net a few moments later and then Taylor Johnson knocked in a close shot that made it 3-0 at halftime.
The second half belonged to Heltsley. The senior who has committed to play at Mississippi State next season scored three times after the break to account for the final score.
Sam Curtsinger picked up the shut-out in goal for the Lady Eagles.
The win moved North Bullitt to 9-8 for the season while Bullitt Central dropped to 3-10 with three games remaining in the regular season this week including a game at Bullitt East on Tuesday.
After winning the Lady Wave Classic at Meade County two weeks earlier, North Bullitt had gone through a 1-3 stretch with the only win coming over Southern. Bringhurst felt his team got back on track with the win on Saturday.
“I thought we played well,” Bringhurst said later. “We were coming off two games against Bethlehem and Collins where we played really poorly for much of the game. We had had flashes of the form we showed in the tournament at Meade County, but we hadn’t played well as a team. The girls were excited on Saturday and they played well.”
Heltsley, who was one of the top ten scorers in the state last season, is back in that position again this fall. After the Bullitt Central game she had 28 goals in 16 contests and she added five more to her total on Monday when the Lady Eagles smashed Whitefield Academy 9-2. Johnson added three goals in that game while Elizabeth Grau had one.
This season, North Bullitt has seen just about every possible defense used to try and contain Heltsley.
“We continue to see teams try to double and even triple team her,” Bringhurst said. “We try to move her around between the midfield and forward to see where the opportunities are going to be. Sometimes it’s up top that we can create chances for her, sometimes it’s out on the wing.”
North Bullitt has two games remaining in the regular season.
“If you had told me we would be 10-8 going into the last two regular season games, I would have been really pleased,” the coach said. “That being said, we have lost several games that we should have won. So, I wish we were a little further along. If we can channel the team that won the Meade County tournament, we can play with anyone.”
North Bullitt will get a chance to avenge one loss this season on Monday when they open Ninth District Tournament play at Nelson County High School at 6 p.m. on Monday. At that time, the green and gold will take the field against Bullitt East. The Lady Chargers won the regular season meeting 4-1 and have the number four seed while North Bullitt is seeded fifth.
Heltsley did not play in the first meeting because of an illness.
“They are very excited,” Bringhurst said of playing Bullitt East again. “We should have everyone back, so it should be a great game. Hopefully, the outcome will be different this time.”
The winner of that game will advance to the tournament semi-finals on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against top-seeded Bardstown.
Bullitt Central has the number seven seed and will play at 8 p.m. on Monday at Nelson County against the host team. The Lady Cardinals have the number two seed.
Bethlehem and LaRue County will meet in a game at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Bethlehem’s field.
The semi-finals on Tuesday (starting at 6 p.m.) and the final on Wednesday (at 7 p.m.) will all be played on Bethlehem’s home field that is located at St. Monica’s Church south of the town square in Bardstown.